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Your Life: Talking to children about violence

Violence is something society must live with. Being prepared to talk to children about violence when it happens can help diminish their fear and confusion.
BY CHARLOTTE LANKARD clankard@opubco.com Modified: August 4, 2012 at 5:57 pm •  Published: August 6, 2012
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Ask them if they are worried and/or frightened. Even if they say no, you are giving them permission to have those feelings and to discuss them if they choose.

Reassure children you will keep them safe. When possible, introduce them to policemen who provide safety and security in their community. While we acknowledge there are people who do bad things, remind them of all the people they know who are kind and trustworthy.

Reinforce the importance of using words to resolve conflicts. However you feel about ownership of guns, help children understand violence is seldom a constructive option.

Whatever the specific questions children may ask, you are always wise to assume there are at least two unspoken questions: Am I going to be OK? Are you going to be here to take care of me? You are never wrong in repeating these assurances.

Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at clankard@opubco.com.